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People gathered in clusters in Five Ways.
Photograph: Supplied/ Destination NSW

Things to do in Sydney this weekend

Art, live music, outdoor dining and so much more await you

By Maxim Boon and Divya Venkataraman
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Sydney Solstice is full steam ahead this weekend, with art and events and pop-ups happening all around town for the city's brand-new winter festival. To herald this exciting new era for Sydney’s after-dark culture, Sydney Solstice has created a sprawling program celebrating all things nightlife across four main areas of the city: the CBDOxford StreetNewtown and Darling Harbour. Whether you're a diehard foodie, a secret raver or a ravenous consumer of culture, our handy guides have got your back.

Just make sure to stick to appropriate hygiene and physical distancing measures when you go out, as laid out by the WHO and the Australian Department of Health.

RECOMMENDED: The best chicken shops in Sydney.

Find the best things to do this weekend

Ferris wheel in front of bridge
Photograph: Laura Cross/Unsplash

1. Take in all the sights and sounds of Sydney Solstice

Things to do Around Sydney, Sydney

Sydney’s nightlife renaissance is ready for take-off. To herald this exciting new era for Sydney’s after-dark culture, Sydney Solstice has created a sprawling program celebrating all things nightlife across four main areas of the city: the CBDOxford StreetNewtown and Darling Harbour. Whether you're a diehard foodie, a secret raver or a ravenous consumer of culture, our handy guides have got your back. 

Mugs of hot chocolate
Photograph: Supplied

2. Get cosy at the Winter Village

Things to do Fairs and festivals Around Parramatta, Parramatta

An event that has set up in Melbourne annually for years, is making its way to Parramatta in 2021 from June 19 to September 12. There's ice-skating, pop-up bars, food trucks, and a village with 'igloos' you can book out. Entry is free, but some activities are ticketed. 

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The Bamboozle Room
Photograph: The Bamboozle Room/Etienne Reynaud

3. Check out a fantastical cabaret dinner show

Things to do The Bamboozle Room, Potts Point

The Bamboozle Room takes your feathery, glittery, charming best expectations of proper burlesque and throws in some oddballs and unexpected elements. It implores you to rethink who you expect to see on a burlesque stage as you sip, nibble, giggle and blush your way through the evening. The atmosphere is ripped straight from the KitKatClub – Weimar-era Berlin meets geographic patterned carpet that would be right at home in the Stanley Hotel. 

Ziggy Ramo
Photograph: Supplied/City of Sydney

4. Celebrate the best of Enmore Road at this mini fest

Things to do Fairs and festivals Around Sydney, Sydney

There are about 30 extra reasons to emerge from the house this winter, thanks to a new festival taking over Enmore Road with a thrilling lineup of more than 30 arts, music, food and cultural events. Third I celebrates three ‘I’s’ – Indigenous, international and Inner West communities – with programming that spotlights diverse and exciting new voices while activating this beloved part of town.

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Wynne Prize-winner Garak Night  Sky
Photograph: AGNSW, Mim Stirling © Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu | Detail of ‘Garak – night sky’, 2021, Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu

5. Check out the Archibald for 2021

Art Galleries Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney

Six-time Archibald Prize finalist Peter Wegner has won the 2021 Archibald Prize, taking home $100,000 for his portrait of artist Guy Warren AM, titled ‘Portrait of Guy Warren at 100’. Which is uncanny, given it’s also the 100th year of the prestigious award. Yolŋu painter and printmaker Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu won $50,000 for her silvery depiction of the Seven Sisters star clusters, also known as Pleiades, titled ‘Garak – night sky’. And first-time Sulman Prize finalist Georgia Spain has secured the $40,000 award for her stunning work ‘Getting down or falling up’.

 

Estaban laneway performance
Photograph: Steven Woodburn

6. See Night over Light

Bars Cocktail bars Around Sydney, Sydney

PSA: The small bars of Sydney’s CBD have recently joined forces under the umbrella of YCK Laneways. ‘YCK’ refers to York, Clarence and Kent Streets, where the bars are clustered. On the heels of their launch event (YCK Laneways Block Party), the precinct has now unveiled a 13-day program of events called Night Over Light as part of this year’s brand-new Sydney Solstice celebration, June 8-20. 

 

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Come from Away Australian cast
Photograph: Jeff Busby

7. Watch 'Come from Away' at the Capitol Theatre

Theatre Musicals Capitol Theatre, Haymarket

Tony, Olivier and Green Room Award-winning musical Come From Away is finally about to touch down in Sydney this winter, after having to divert last year because of you know what. Which is oddly on-brand for a show that’s all about a massive global upheaval. Set in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the US 20 years ago, the Irene Sankoff and David Hein musical details the incredible true story of the teeny Canadian town that welcomed a fleet of diverted flights bearing folks from all over the world.

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Igloos on pier
Photograph: Supplied/Pier One

9. Book out one of these igloos on the pier

Things to do Pop-up locations Pier One Sydney Harbour, Dawes Point

We're probably not going to see snow in Sydney this winter, but you can play pretend at an Antarctic season inside a cosy, extremely fancy igloo. Draped in furs and filled with hearty winter feasts for you and your crew of winter city explorers, the cosy hangout of your dreams is designed this year by Instagram influencer Tara Milk Tea – and as in years past, it's popping up at hotel Pier One. 

 

Ringmaster
Photograph: Supplied

10. Check out this circus pop-up

Things to do Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq, Alexandria

Stilt-walkers, kaleidoscopic colours, glittering tarot card readers and suited-up magicians, all in one, fantastical, dizzingly colourful set-up? That's right – the circus is back in town. On every second Saturday night of the month until mid-November, an immersive, circus-themed pop-up is set to bring a little escapist fantasy to the back streets of Alexandria, taking over the arcade game filled den of Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq.

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Drag queen Hannah Conda sips cocktail
Photograph: Supplied/Prince of York

11. Hit up a bottomless brunch with drag queens

Things to do Prince of York, Sydney

Looking for something a little different for your next weekend catch up or special celebration? Head underground at CBD party bar the Prince of York on a Saturday afternoon. Head past the exposed brick and geometric prints and you’ll find a fancy, boozy daytime dining event amongst the low lighting, lush velvety couches and scattered disco balls of bar-within-a-bar, Pamela’s – complete with drag queens.

 

Two drag queens pose by bar holding cocktails
Photograph: Anna Kucera | Miss 3D and Etcetera Etcetera at the Imperial Hotel, Erskineville

12. Go to a 'RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under' watch party

Bars

Hold onto your boas, babe, because it’s finally time to say ‘G’day’ and ‘Shantay’ to the first Antipodean series of the reality TV megahit that has made drag fans of literally millions of people worldwide. We’ve selected the very best viewing parties across the city, where you can not only marvel at our fabulous Aussie drag stars on screen, but you can also see many of them in the flesh. Can we get an amen up in here?

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Flowers in front of blue velvet crutain
Photograph: Sophie Jaye Hayman

13. Check out Native Drops' new Surry Hills store

Shopping Bottle shops Surry Hills

Native Drops is part-bottleshop, part-creative space, part-educational hub. Along the walls of the prime Crown Street location, gold lighting rims shelves stocked with Australian and imported wines, all in bottles stuck with either ultra-minimalist or psychedically colourful labels. Most of Native Drops' offerings are small-batch makes from local and interstate suppliers, who consider biodynamic winemaking and minimal intervention processes a core part of their work. Swing by its new store for your natty needs. 

Bowl of ramen
Photograph: Supplied/Butter

14. Slurp these experimental takes on ramen

News Restaurants

Fried chicken and sneaker palace Butter has already racked up a cult following – one which is about to be amped the hell up. Instead of just one kind of ramen, their OG fried chicken, the Sydney eatery is rallying a bunch of Australia's best chefs to line up six-limited edition versions. Each one will be available in limited numbers each day for a month-long reign at the Surry Hills, Parramatta and Chatswood stores. 

 

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A beautiful tapestry depicting a blue dingo against a collage of images
Photograph: Mim Sterling | detail, Assemblage of the Fragmented Landscape, 2020, Mehwish Iqbal

15. Gaze at contemporary art at the National

Art Galleries Multiple venues

Stretching luxuriously across The Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW), the MCA and Carriageworks, the biennial smorgasbord of creativity that is the National is ready to wow us. It's the third outing of this art event that connects creative precincts in the Domain, Redfern and Circular Quay and showcases around 40 artists, collectives and collaboratives.

People sitting outside under glass building in a tree-lined terrace area
Photograph:Suuplied/Kitti Gould

16. Swing by South Eveleigh, a buzzing new food precinct

News Restaurants

What do you get when you rally together some of the city's finest makers, chefs and cocktail-shakers and drop them into one industrial hub? You get South Eveleigh: once a collection of old railway sheds, now a regenerated, buzzing dining and drinking destination. The area's old heritage buildings have been preserved and its historic façades will now play host to an up-and-coming food hub. 

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Tokyo Lamington Newtown, Black Star Pastry, food overview, lamin
Photograph: Anna Kucera

17. Eat lamingtons at Newtown's newest dessert store

Restaurants Newtown

Made out the back of a light-filled store on Newtown's Australia Street, Tokyo Lamington's lams come wrapped in a pillow of blowtorched meringue and filled with an inch of yuzu custard, or rolled in crunchy, black sesame seeds and filled with a nutty cream, or in the form of a mint-green cube that tastes like a collision between chiffon cake and a matcha latte. They're not what your school canteen dished up. Have yours with a cup of Single O coffee.  

a person stands in front of a suspended wall of LED lighting like a starfield
Photograph: White Rabbit | 'Miniature', 2015, LuxuryLogico

18. Immerse yourself in this glittering exhibition

Art Installation White Rabbit, Chippendale

Oh starry, starry night – we have been utterly transfixed by the blinding glow of lush exhibition Lumen. Currently on show at White Rabbit Gallery until August 1, if you haven’t had a looksee as yet, then prepare to be dazzled. The magnetic collection brings together glimmering works from more than 25 artists from China and Taiwan.

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Hamilton is coming to Sydney. Grab your tickets now
Photograph: Joan Marcus

19. Watch blockbuster musical 'Hamilton'

Theatre Musicals Sydney Lyric Theatre, Darling Harbour

It's been an excruciatingly long Wait For It but Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton – the hip-hop, R'n'B and jazz-infused Broadway mega-hit exploring American revolutionary history – has finally hit the main stage at Sydney's Lyric Theatre. It's the most hotly anticipated show to arrive in town for years and tickets have been selling in the vein of proverbial hotcakes, all the way until August of this year. Best to get yours stat. 

Chicken meal at Thirsty Bird
Photograph: Anna Kucera

20. Hit up one of the best chicken shops in Sydney

Restaurants

Fried, roasted or chargrilled: Sydney's a city with a serious appetite for chicken. Just look at the recent influx of chicken joints to the city, which cater to your every chook-based need – from the convenience of drive-throughs to a fresh take on Korean fried chicken, to the traditional Sunday roast. We've rounded up our favourites in the fight for fowl supremacy.

 

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A plate of oysters with a slice of both lemon and lime at Waterm
Photograph: Anna Kucera

21. Get bang for your buck at one of these oyster happy hours

Bars

There's not really much middle ground with these tasty treats of the sea: but there's one thing that unites oyster enthusiasts and it's the joy of being able to eat them by the dozen and have change to spare for a great glass of sparkling on the side. Here's where to go. 

 

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Garie Beach in the Royal National Park
Photograph: CC/Dimitri Koussa

23. Check out the best national parks to explore near Sydney

Attractions Parks and gardens

Cities are amazing, but every now and then, it feels good to slow down, escape the urban jungle and get back to nature. Fortunately, you won’t have to travel very far to find yourself surrounded by verdant greenery and soothing solitude as you explore one of many national parks that can be found on Sydney's fringes. Next time you need a break from the pace of city living, we suggest you take a trip to one of these lush and leafy retreats within 100km of the CBD. 

Still hungry?

One bite canapes at Mimi's
One bite canapes at Mimi's
Photograph: Daniel Boud

The best restaurants in Sydney right now

Restaurants

This is the Time Out EAT list, our picks for the best places to dine in Sydney right now, from hot newcomers to time-honoured institutions, ranked by our expert local editors. We’re looking for fun, flavour, creativity and value for money at every price point. So yes, of course, you’ll find a fine diner inside the Opera House here, but you’ll find neighbourhood pizza, hole-in-the-wall Thai and lunch-only ramen, too – and that’s what makes our city such an awesome place to get watered and fed. Bon appétit!

 

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